Villa to ‘assess’ Leon Bailey Saturday before making starting decision for Hammers

Bailey made his long awaited return to action in the 3-1 loss at the Emirates stadium

Leon Bailey will be assessed by Dean Smith and the coaching staff on Saturday before a decision is made as to whether he will start against West Ham United or not.

The Jamaican made his much anticipated return to action in the second-half against Arsenal but was “blowing” by the end, according to Smith.

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Bailey is a player that Villa fans are desperate to be fit and available. Every time he plays he brings excitement and even registered an assist in his short stint at the Emirates last week.

But the 24-year-old is yet to get a full 90 minutes under his belt in the claret & blue and so it’s understandable that those at Bodymoor Heath continue to air on the side of caution with the winger.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game, Smith said: “We’ll assess him tomorrow before we make a final decision.”

“He certainly needed those 45 minutes against Arsenal.

“He’s a player that arrived with an injury. He’s not had a pre-season so he’s been going through a pre-season for the last three or four weeks.

“I think anybody who was there at Arsenal could tell he needed those 45 minutes. We’ll assess.

“He’s trained well this week but we have to manage him appropriately because what I don’t want is him to break down and go back to square one. We’ll manage him appropriately.”

Two players that definitely won’t be starting or playing any part are midfield pair Morgan Sanson & Jaden Philogene-Bidace. Both have been suffering with illness this week and won’t be risked against the Hammers.

Better news comes in the shape of Emiliano Martinez, though. There were reports on Thursday evening that the shot-stopper would be unavailable following a picture he posted on social media back in his home country of Argentina but Smith says he is now back in England and available.

It was confirmed that Martinez had flown to Argentina because of a family emergency but understandably the manager was unable to reveal any more information on the matter.